James Webb launch delayed following incident during preparations
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has suffered yet another delay – but at least this time, it’s only a matter of days. NASA says that additional testing of the instrument now needs to be conducted after an incident during launch preparations.
The JWST is currently being prepared at a facility in Kourou, French Guiana, ahead of its launch in December. NASA reports that technicians were attaching the telescope to the launch vehicle adapter, which would then be attached to the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket that will carry it into orbit. A clamp band suddenly released, which sent vibrations through the JWST.
A review board, led by NASA, determined that additional testing is needed to ensure that these vibrations haven’t damaged any components in the observatory. As such, the launch date has been moved from December 18 to “no earlier than” December 22.
While it’s certainly disappointing to have another delay in such an important instrument, it’s much better option to spend four extra days checking for any issues, rather than finding out after launch. After all, James Webb is destined for the second Lagrange point (L2) in the Earth-Sun system, which is too far away to send astronauts to service it, as they have with Hubble in the past.
Hopefully the inspections give it the all-clear for launch, and we don’t have to wait too much longer for the incredible images James Webb will deliver.